BRIDGEWATER – Opponents of a proposed 29-turbine windpower project in the Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain region watched with dismay as the state approved a smaller wind project in Antrim last week.
The state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) approved the nine-turbine Antrim Wind project after rejecting a slightly larger project in 2013. The $65 million project should produce enough electricity to power 12,300 homes when it becomes operational, expected to be in late 2017, company officials said earlier this year.
But several groups that have been fighting wind projects in the regions reacted critically to the state’s Site Evaluation Committee’s decision to allow the plant, proposed by Eolian Renewable Energy and Walden Green Energy, in Antrim.
“Antrim residents impacted by the proposed Antrim wind project have overwhelmingly expressed opposition to this project throughout the SEC hearing process,” said Michelle Sanborn of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, which supports resident-based decision making on such projects.
State officials said last week the Antrim approval won’t necessarily prompt a flood of new projects to come before the committee.
Opponents of new wind plants in central parts of the state, who had a hand in discouraging at least one developer from pursuing a plant with proposed towers around Newfound Lake, say the Antrim approval should not encourage Energias de Portugal, which has proposed the 29-turbine Spruce Wind plant in five towns – Alexandria, Canaan, Dorchester, Groton and Orange.
EDP officials, who were not available for comment, have said they will go forward with their plan in coming months, despite the fact that residents in the towns affected have overwhelmingly voted against the proposal at town meetings this year and in 2015. Opponents say a power plant and turbine towers around the scenic area would ruin views, poison tourism, and cause property values to drop.
Peter Silbermann, a spokesman for the Newfound Cardigan Legal Fund, said Antrim’s success should not bolster EDP.
“The SEC’s approval of the Antrim project should set no precedent for the Spruce Ridge project since the scope of the Spruce Ridge project is fundamentally different. Antrim Wind calls for just nine turbines while Spruce Ridge calls for up to 29 turbines,” he said. “The Newfound Cardigan Legal Fund does not oppose windpower in general, but strongly believes that, based on the aesthetic and other impacts the Spruce Ridge Project would impose upon the Mount Cardigan/Newfound Lake region, (the EDP-proposed plant site) is not an appropriate site for another major industrial wind farm.”
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